One of their enemies is known simply as the Fianna. A secretive and brutal army of assassins whose history dates back to pagan Irelend. Last month in Part 1, I wrote about the Fianna from the early Roman invasions up through the time of King Arthur. Today I'd like to jump ahead a bit to more modern accounts of these mythical warriors.
In 1866, a group of Irish soldiers who called themselves the Fianna, assaulted British forts and trading stations in Canada. These are still known as the Fenian Raids. Their goal was to gain independence for Ireland from Britain. These men, after their capture, cited the seven articles of the ancient Fianna army as written in Keating's History of Ireland and Hume's The History of England From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688.
Since this was during the American Civil War, there's evidence the U.S. turned a blind eye to these assaults and even more speculation that the U.S. government wanted to use these Fianna warriors in unauthorized and unconventional ways. There's no proof these men ever fought for the Union Army, but there is anecdotal evidence that, because of their secretive brutal ways, they were asked to join the Civil War.
Ironically, these attacks were one of the reasons the provinces of Canada decided to form a single country in 1867. Neither the U.S. (who was at war with itself) nor the ineffectual Canadian Militia could take down the Fianna. It wasn't until the 1890's, when both Canada and the U.S. worked together, that they were they able to eradicate the threat.
As late as the World War II, there were murmurings (aka gossip) by German POWs held in Ireland of a brutal Irish underground army known as Na Fianna Éireann. The Germans assumed they were part of the Fenian Brotherhood, a rebel offshoot of the men who fought in the early 20th century Irish rebellions. But the locals discounted that story and refused to talk about the young warrior men who lived on the outskirts of society. They were simply known as the Fianna.
It was while reading about the Canadian incidents that I first came across the connection of Shakespeare to the Fianna. Shakespeare was purported to be a secret supporter of Irish Nationalism and these captured men supposedly attempted to communicate in Shakespearean verse instead of Gaelic poetry. This is probably made-up gossip, but I thought it was so interesting that I included it in my own fictional Fianna army.
So, does the Fianna exist now? I hope not.
Did they ever exist? Yes.
And not just in poetry and myth. From the research I've done, the Fianna was the single reason Rome never conquered the Isle and why the Picts and Scots, and even the Vikings, made few forays into Ireland until the late Middle Ages.
There is one documented historical fact written by the Roman Historian Tacitus. In the first century, around 82 AD, Rome's famous military governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola (who defeated Queen Boudica in 61 AD) sought to invade Ireland with 5,000 men. He even had a minor Irish King willing to betray his countrymen and help him overtake the Island. So, despite resources being stretched thin by battles with the Celts and Picts up in Scotland, he invaded with full confidence that he'd win.
The battle details are sketchy, but between battling the Fianna warriors from the moment they set foot on the Island, to an extremely rare mutiny within the Roman Legion ranks, Agricola lost and was recalled to Rome by the Emperor Domitian. After that, the stories say that the Roman Legionnaires refused to fight in Ireland or simply disappeared before they'd face the Fianna.
There are so many myths and poems written about the Fianna that it's hard to distinguish what was real and what wasn't. But that also gave me a lot of leeway when developing my version of the Fianna Army.
In Every Deep Desire, and the upcoming One Dark Wish, the 21st Century Fianna are a constant source of trouble for the men of the Deadly Force series. In the series, the Fianna are considered a myth by most of the world which gives them tremendous leeway and cover to torment my heroes.
Since the heroes of the Deadly Force series work outside the law, battling an enemy no one believes exists, they're on their own to survive and redeem themselves. While at the same time trying to fall in love. :)
I hope you've enjoyed learning about the Fianna and I'm happy to answer any questions you may have!
Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare's greatest love stories.
Sharon loves to interact on her website www.sharonwray.com as well as on most social media platforms!